Draw Strength from Your Weakness
Updated: Apr 23, 2022
This is the very first post of my new blog – A Journey to Clearness. Based on my personal experiences as a life coach, I find that when we reach a high level of clearness about who we are and what we do, we are able to take meaningful actions and move forward with full motivation and confidence. A Journey to Clearness is my personal wish to share with you the insights I have gained from my practice as a life coach, with the intention that they will shed some light on your journey of growing yourself and/or others.
The details of the coaching examples provided in this blog are composites based on real situations. Some names may have been altered to respect the confidentiality of my clients.
During a conversation with her coach, Daisy felt a bit awkward to share her situation, but she felt that she could not live with it anymore. Daisy is a public speaker, and she enjoys her time on stage engaging with her audience. The problem is that every time before she goes onstage, she feels very nervous, mentally, and physically. She is afraid that she is not good enough for the people who come to listen to her. She feels like she needs to throw up. Sometimes she does throw up, usually just minutes before her speech. In a hurry, she cleans up, talks to herself to calm down, takes a deep breath, and sips some water … All those so-called techniques appear to work in the moment, allowing her to go on stage with no trace of what happened, but deep-down Daisy knows that her problem has never gone away.
As Daisy spoke her coach noticed there was quite a lot of self-criticism coupled with a strong feeling of shame. “I’m a professional speaker. I love what I do. It is so stupid and unprofessional to have such big nerves in doing what I love and am good at! I truly want to enjoy every minute of my job yet this nervousness is ruining the fun. I really need to get rid of it. But how?” Daisy said with lots of anxiety.
Every one of us has different views about our own weaknesses and has adopted different relationships with them. In Daisy’s case, she treated her nervousness like a disease that she shouldn’t have. All that she was doing was to make it disappear so that she could feel good about herself again. In another words, she picked a fight with her so-called weakness, and unfortunately, she has never really won that fight.
Through the coaching conversation, Daisy shifted her relationship with her nervousness to more self-compassion. The specific shift brought her many benefits, such as:
1) It allowed her to better understand why she was so nervous
2) It helped her reconcile with her nervousness forever
3) It allowed her to accept herself and draw power from her nervousness
What did Daisy and her coach achieve in coaching? What has Daisy shifting her relationship with her nervousness? You will find the answers below from the three key lessons Daisy learned.
Lesson No.1 When you realize your weakness, first, suspend judging yourself.
See your ‘weakness’ as a signal that you should look inward instead of labelling it as a good or bad thing. In Daisy’s case, she criticized herself badly: “it’s so unprofessional to be so nervous as an experienced public speaker.” Instead, listen to what all the signals are telling you. In Daisy’s case, it means she is uneasy with being on the stage. It also indicates that she cares a lot about her performance and whether audience will like her. Her over-attachment to performance/results caused her nervousness in the first place. It’s not that she’s wrong or flawed, it’s just that she places more emphasis on what she will look like through her audience’s eye.
Lesson No.2 Listen closely to what you are saying to yourself about your weakness. Look at things from different sides. Engage in a friendly conversation with yourself.
When you hear self-criticism, ask yourself:
- What makes you think that you should have mastered it already?
- What if you knew that almost every public speaker feels nervous in various degrees before they go on the stage?
- Imagine yourself talking to a close friend who’s in the exact same situation as you: what would the loving and caring part of you say to your friend?
- What can you do to make most out of your nervousness, knowing that it doesn’t mean that you’re flawed?
Those questions helped Daisy look at her nervousness from a more neutral perspective. She realized that it was completely normal to feel nervous just as everyone else did. Through the process of reflection in coaching, she grew her self-compassion and was able to treat herself as a caring friend would. Suddenly, her self-criticism stopped.
Lesson No.3 Accept yourself in its entirety, both your strengths and weaknesses. Accepting yourself allows you to draw strength from your weakness.
Accepting doesn’t imply giving up and surrendering. When you accept your weakness, it doesn’t mean you will stop improving or growing. Quite the opposite, accepting your weakness gives you power to choose whether you want a change instead of automatically claiming “I have to change.” There is a distinction between “I want to change it” and “I have to change it.” With “I want to,” you own your goals, thoughts and feelings. You are responsible for yourself. While with “I have to,” you are not really in control of what feels good about yourself. Everything is then dependent on external validation. Accepting yourself allows you to take responsibility for yourself. With a high degree of responsibility and ownership, you will be resourceful, creative and powerful.
After Daisy accepted her nervousness, she immediately stopped those self-criticism and her desire to fix herself. What’s most beautiful is that she realized that her nervousness could be a blessing instead of a mere weakness. Every time when she feels nervous again, she can now invite herself back to the current moment and be truly present with herself. Her nervousness has become an invitation to be present with herself, in which she has enjoyed but didn’t spend much time doing. Isn’t that a brilliant way to draw strength from your weakness?
If you are experiencing similar resistance and fight with yourself or your weakness, and applied the steps above, I’d love to hear your experiences.
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About Lucy Qian, International Life Coach
Lucy’s clients say that she has a superpower for helping them see clear direction and next steps, no matter how confused they are in the beginning. Through coaching with Lucy, they become clear about who they are and know what they really want.
Lucy is a certified coach in different settings: Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF), Certified Laser-focused Life Coach by the Life Coaching Group, and Organizational Coach by the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership.
In her blog, A Journey to Clearness, Lucy shares life experiences and lessons from her practice as an international life coach.
Learn more about Lucy Qian.